Meet my crafty friend Jodi A!

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This is my friend and co-worker Jodi, she is amazing, generous, gentle, strong, reliable, and super talented. We went to the same school way back when but we didn’t become close until we both started working for Rogers Communications. Her sister BJ would like me to mention that she is single, we are both unsure why!

You may be wondering why I would feature a random (no matter how awesome) person on my blog well for one it’s my blog and I will blog what I want to. But I wanted to put Jodi in the spot light because she is one of my dearest friends and her talents need to be showcased.

A little over a year ago I came across a photo album on her Facebook page that showcased the many crafts she has completed but most of all her hand embroidered pillows really caught my eye and I had asked her if she had some time if I could commission 4 of them, one for my sister Crystal, her husband John, my mom Marion, and me. Jodi being the awesome person she is said that she would love to as long as I was not in any rush as she had a few to finish before hand. We talked later on about what I had in mind and I left her to it. Almost a year to the day after I asked for them they were ready to be enjoyed. I never rushed her or felt entitled to bug her since she was doing something nice for me and I was happy to give her the space to be creative and to complete what other projects she felt. She does do this as a hobby after all so there really shouldn’t be any pressure or rush when you are doing it because you enjoy it.

What she delivered is nothing short of amazing! I absolutely LOVE the final product and it was well worth the wait. I would have waited another year for them, they are just that awesome. I decided to have an owl for mine, a dragon for Crystal, an elephant for mom, and the Horde symbol from World of Warcraft for John. Jodi says that John’s was the first one done and she even went as far as to looking up the font that Blizzard uses and replicates this for John’s name. Mom’s she decided on a circus elephant standing on a ball which is the most vibrant she could showcase. Crystal’s favourite colour is purple so with that in mind she beautifully portrayed a dragon. Crystal’s presented a frustration for Jodi as she tells me that her first attempt was more on the “cutesy” side not at all what the final product is. For mine I let her have at it I’m not picky and I just really wanted one so it could have been a dandelion and I would have been thrilled and amazed. Here is a picture of each of them.

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FOR THE HORDE!

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Look at the details of all of them! Mom’s has a 3D tail effect and beading.

 

I asked Jodi if she would be comfortable if I interviewed her she agreed here are the questions and answers. It maybe slightly edited but not much.

Penny (P): When/Why did you start crafting?

Jodi (J): I started sewing the pillows about 10 or so years ago. Why? I suffer from anxiety and OCD…and would fidget with my hands so it was a combination of reasons. I like being creative and it gives me something to do when my stress or anxiety got bad.

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This is the first pillow Jodi did as a wedding gift.

P: You mentioned your anxiety and OCD I imagine some of my readers also deal with the same sorts of things. Have you found that rafting has enriched your life and helped manage symptoms?

J: Absolutely! I find it helps me focus and turns off the “hamster” running on the wheel that is anxiety. I can get OCD with the colours and timeframes but most people like you are amazing at being patient. My older sister BJ is great with helping me choose colours.

P: What other craft projects do you like to do?

J: I love woodworking and stone inuksuk. My younger sister is a painter and a photographer, the whole family is pretty creative

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A picture of her beautiful woodworking. An a surprise gift given to me from Jodi last year.

P: You are damn crafty! Is there a project that you really want to attempt but haven’t had the chance yet?

J: <Took her a bit to answer this one> I thought of one….I’ve been saving old jeans for years to make a patchwork quilt for my bed,…haven’t gotten around to it yet. My biggest project that is also my favourite by far is the throw I made for my parents.

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Throw for her parents.

P: Would you ever consider doing this and opening an online store or earning extra income?

J: Everyone asks me this but the answer is no. One of the main reasons is because of the time they take, they are pretty much 100% handmade. I really only charge for the what it costs me for supplies and I don’t want the stress…LOL I do it to relax, and for the joy I can give to others when they get them.

Note: The pillows Jodi does are handmade, the only time the pillows touch a sewing machine is to sew the front to the back. The backs of the pillows (which are not pictured) are well suited to the theme and style. She made mine with fuzzy fabric which is cozy and I loves! She buys the actual pillow itself but always adds more stuffing.

P: What is your approach and method with your crafts?

J: Something unique about what I do is that I never make the same pillow twice, and I really try to match each pillow and colours to the persons’ personality,…like with my wedding pillows.

Pictures below show a project’s progress (not any of mine) used with permission from the now owner of the pillow.

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Cool eh?

P: What is the best and most frustrating thing about the crafts you do?

J: I have to be in the mood to sew. I have said no to pillows if I didn’t think the idea would work on fabric. Customization and asking a person a lot of irritating questions helps. Best thing…the final product and the persons reaction. Worst…colour selection (hence my sisters help) and the actual blood, sweat, and tears that go into every pillow (project) because I want them to be perfect (damn OCD).

 

Me and my family LOVE the pillows Jodi has done, she made them with love and it shows. I asked Jodi if there was something that she wanted to add or anything that I hadn’t thought of that she wanted to include but she couldn’t come up with anything. Let me add something on her behalf; Jodi uses crafting, the same way I use humour or writing she is AMAZING at what she does and the joy she brings to this world because of it cannot be replaced. Jodi is the friend you want in your corner because she will do ANYTHING she can for you, even if that means telling you off (which she hasn’t yet had to do for me!) I couldn’t imagine my work or personal life without her. I hope by reading this you have felt like you have gotten to know her. I’m sure she would love to see or know what kinds of crafts everyone out there does. Post them and I know they will make Jodi and me smile

1 Year and a Fish Taco ago

ComicCon

 

One year ago this weekend my sister, her husband, and I were enjoying all things Comic Con in sunny San Diego California.  It was an amazing adventure and seeing all the posts and pictures makes me wish it could be a yearly adventure. I envy everyone who lives in the area who is able to get out and get your geek on.

I would have to say my only complaint is that there were SO many people crammed in the spaces so it made it hard to really enjoy the floor. I did however manage to complete a mission to get all pins from HALO. We had attended a panel and were given special cards to head to where Microsoft / Xbox was and given lanyards with all the information required to find the pins. So on one of our last nights I headed out on my own braved the crazy floor and snagged ALL 11 pins. It was a quest, and I was up for the challenge.

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The other fun things about being able to go to California last year was getting to visit the Zoo and Sea World all though I wasn’t impressed by Sea World and felt bad for all the captive whales.

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My other favourite part of San Diego besides the people was the FOOD, we ate at the Crab Shack and Coyote Café ( http://www.cafecoyoteoldtown.com/). OMG the fish taco still has me talking about it a year later. If I were filthy stinking rich I would fly there once a week just to eat there!

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See, doesn’t that look good!

 

I asked my sister Crystal and her husband John what their favourite part of the trip was last year and they agreed that it was the touring. Being able to go to Old town, walk around where the convention centre was, all the sights you see on the bus travelling back and froth from the Con. I would have to say one of my favourite parts was starting a Hug fest at the Haven Panel. Crystal went with John to one panel and I went to the Haven panel and managed to get a front row seat and got up and asked a question. I was second in line, Eric Belfour recognized me from Twitter and realized he owed me a hug (he didn’t really owe me, but that’s ok) and he delivered. From then on in EVERYONE wanted a hug from other members of the cast. I was also able to mingle with some of the cast after the panel and it was a moment I will never forget.

I could fill a lot of blog entries with all the pictures and fun I had but they are just memories and hopefully one day I will be able to go again.

 

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http://fanexpocanada.com/

On a related note I think this August I am going to try really hard to get to Fan Expo. My sister and I went one year and we did have fun but we ended up having to stand in line for 2 hours and were SO tired when we finally got in that I don’t think I got the most out of the experience. Picked up some cool souvenirs but I’m still on the hunt to buy my first comic book. Yes, you read that right I have ZERO actual comic books in my house. I have a few digitally from Dark Horse but no physical ones and I really want to buy one.

I also want to be able to meet some of the stars like Nathan Fillion, Hulk Hogan, the cast of Bones, Patrick Stewart, William Shartner,…. well this list could go on for a while.

It may not happen and I will be very disappointed since it’s SO close.

 

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I heard that Grumpy Cat with be at the Chapters Indigo Book store in Toronto on August 4th… also would love to check meeting Tardar off my bucket list.

 

So many events and things to do and so little time to go. :)

Great weekend

I started writing the following post way….way, back in February and I was using a computer I wasn’t familiar with (and that wasn’t mine) and couldn’t figure out how to get pictures off of my phone to port to this post. I wasn’t able to write in a while due to lack of good computers but an amazing Facebook friend saw my plight and sent me a brand new Acer E laptop so that I can do more writing. This post is dedicated to her, she wanted to remain anonymous so I won’t name her but I will take his time to THANK HER! She has a couple of knitted doggie blankets coming to her soon…as soon as I finish the baby blanket I’m still working on that I started on this trip. So everyone can expect more posts since I now have a working computer YIPPIE so happy and so very thankful to you know who!

 

Last year my Orthodontist asked me to be a part of a fundraiser called Ski For Kids. She had asked me to come last year (and probably the year before) but things just never worked out. This year she very much wanted me to be a part of it and asked if I would be the guest speaker.  Each year she has one of her patients come and talk about themselves in the hopes that the attendees will connect what they are raising money for to an actual person. So in February I was able to take part and had a great time.

 

The fundraiser is in support of The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto’s cleft lip & palate and craniofacial anomalies research fund. Let me tell you more about the Ski For Kids objectives as it was posted on the flyer for this year’s event;

~ Orthodontic care for children born with cleft lip & palate is the key part of the overall corrective process SickKids have a number of research studies underway designed to enhance care and determine best practice treatment.

~Clinical study is examining the effects of outcomes of infant orthodontic devices designed to prepare infants born with cleft lip & palate for surgical repair.  A second study is using 3-D imaging to assess the outcome of the use of these devices.

~ Children born with cleft lip & palate often require numerous surgeries initially and during development.  Orthodontists are reviewing surgical techniques to improve outcomes and ultimately optimize best practices.

~ A population-based research study is examining the costs associated with care for children born with cleft lip & palate to determine if nasoalveolar moulding is cost-effective.

~ Medical studies have shown that children with cleft lip & palate have a greater chance of having cervical vertebrae anomalies.  SickKids orthodontist are looking at these anomalies in conjunction with how these children develop overtime.

 

For me that weekend was a whirlwind of fun. I’m not one to always have fun on my own so I brought my good friend Donna with me. The even was held in Collingwood Ontario about 2.5 hours away from where I live. Donna and I started out after she finished work at 12:30pm Thursday afternoon and got to the hotel after 3pm or was it closer to 4pm…hmm.. anyways we got checked in and explored our room. We stayed at The Westin Trillium Hotel and WOW is that a really nice place to stay. If you are ever in Collingwood and want to stay in a friendly clean really nice hotel I highly recommend that one! See the pictures below.

After settling in for a few minutes we were asked to come to Alpine ski club where everything was being set up for Friday’s event. Donna and I were introduced to the committee members who were doing a fantastic job getting all the stuff together. Donna and I helped fold information pamphlets in half and put them on the tables where the attendees would sit when they come in to rest from skiing. We talked and watched as things came together. After a few hours the whole group went out for dinner at a place called The Huron Club.

This is where the weekend had a low point, as Donna was manuvering her car in to a tight spot the tire caught some ice as she went to hit the break her foot slipped and hit the gas. You can already see what happened, can’t you? Well thankfully we were going super slow but she ended up hitting a concrete pole. The impact was hard enough that the bumper cover popped off on the passenger side. I haven’t felt that helpless in a long time there was nothing I could do. Donna was upset and after consulting with her brother and having the guys in our group come to look at the damage it was determined to be minor and that the car was drivable which was a huge relief. Once Donna got home she had the car looked at and it’s going to cost $1600 to replace the bumper cover, and rebar that was bent. Again I feel so helpless like me Donna lives at home with her mom and supports her mom so like most of us it’s going to be hard to come up with $1600 as when it rains it pours.

When we had got the car bit sorted out dinner was AMAZING I had the trout which were served with maple glazed brussels sprouts and a potato pancake type thing and man was it yummy. As an appetizer I had crispy calamari, my orthodontist had octopus as an appetizer and she made me try it. To my utter amazement I actually enjoyed it but I have to say I will not just “try” octopus it would have to be at that restaurant and that preparation. For dessert I had cheese cake…yummy! Donna had the fish tacos and I’m kind of sad I didn’t try those maybe next time as fish tacos are one of my favourite dishes.

We got back to the hotel and we had a chance to relax watch some TV and sit in front of the fireplace. We headed down to the lobby of the hotel to get some pictures and to have a coffee at the bar, that’s right we had a COFFEE at the bar, not a beer, although I could have used a Strawberry Daiquiri! I asked Donna to help me prepare my speech as I had not yet really planned out anything. I’m a procrastinator so I do typically leave things to the last minute. Every time I tried to think about what I was going to say a wave of panic washed over me and I just gave up. So sitting at the bar drinking our coffees it was so nice, Donna helped me have a stream of thought and an order of things. It was nice having her there and it was a huge help.

We got up early on the Friday had breakfast in our room (my first time having room service) we got ready and headed out to Alpine. Donna took my orthodontists husband to a local auto repair shop to get a first daytime look at the damage to her car. I stayed back and hung out eating and watching people as they were skiing. It was a cold windy day but everyone was having a great time. Donna got back and after she got her teeth whitened we decided to go snow shoeing. We were provided with a guide from the resort named Larry and Larry was amazing. They stopped the ski lift and we proceeded up to the top of the hills where there are trails after getting all sorted out we walked a bit down a trail and it was so calm and peaceful. If I hadn’t had to get back to do a speech I would have loved to keep going it wasn’t nearly as cold and windy on the trail as it was coming up on the lift. We were treated to a trip back down the mountain via ski lift which is not something Alpine Ski hill normally allows but we were treated like VIPs and the view was spectacular. My phone battery died so I was not able to get any pictures which makes me sad :(

I had brought a change of clothes with me so that when I gave my speech I would feel confident however we were running a bit late so as soon as we got back from our snow shoe adventure the festivities got started. Dr. Dagys got it started with a very emotional speech that she couldn’t even get through and I thought I wouldn’t get through mine but I took the mic and just started talking. Since Donna had helped me the night before I had a rough outline and an idea of how I wanted to present what I wanted to say. When I started talking people were still having some conversations and than it started getting quieter until other than me speaking you could hear a pin drop. I want to say that I had not done any public speaking before this and it scared the living crap out of me but when I started talking I had no nerves. I had people laughing (which was one goal) and had people crying, when I finished the crowd erupted and got the greatest gift a standing ovation! WHAT! After my speech I was able to help with the raffle draws where I didn’t win anything but in the live auction someone bid and donated to me an amazing gift a $500 gift card for St. Anne’s Spa (google it) I am thrilled and super excited, and honoured, and speechless, and so grateful.

Once the evening wound down and everyone had gone home we headed back to the hotel to meet up with a group for dinner at the hotel. The restaurant in the hotel is Oliver & Bonacini and it’s so SO good. I had the tiger shrimp linguini, Donna had the salmon. For dessert I had smore cheesecake. I would eat that again if it was in front of me right now!

That Saturday morning marked the last day and we had to check out by 11am so we got up early to take a dip in the pool and the hot tub both of which are outside, yep so while it was -15 we took a dip in a nice heated pool. The fun part was getting from the pool to the hot tub….wow it was cold. After we got back we had breakfast downstairs where Donna and I each had the eggs benedict…oh I can’t even begin to say how good it was. We had a nice drive home where I knitted and we sung to some tunes. I am still knitting the blanket I started in February really need to work at getting that done!

I had a really great time, we raised a lot of money for the charity and I stuffed myself on really awesome food. Thanks so much to everyone who came. Dr Dagys for inviting me, Kelly-Ann Macknight who is the dental hygienist but more than that she is a friend who made the weekend so much fun, shout out to Kelly-Ann’s awesome 2 kids Sky & Ben and to both their husbands. A HUGE thanks to DONNA thanks for being there and supporting me always. I am so lucky to have you in my life.

Now for all the pictures:

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Trail we were snow shoeing on.

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Donna wasn’t really dressed for the snow so she ended up borrowing a jacket, mittens, and a hat. She is really impressed I took this picture. LOVE YA DONNA!

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 Donna was acknowledged for her volunteerism with this nifty tooth shaped vessel filled with awesome stuff!

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One of my favourite selfies of this year so far! FYI it was cold and we were in bathing suits!

Seasons

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As the year comes to an end and we are just officially hitting winter here in Canada and in other places around the world I always think of the seasons.

 

Spring

 

The new, the messy. Spring represents the start of everything the beginning of a cycle. Where everything is possible and we all cannot wait for the first blooms to start peeking out of the ground.

Around where I live in Ontario we mark the beginning of nice weather when we get our first sighting of a robin. I can always hear people asking or telling each other of when or where they got their first sight. We get excited if we haven’t yet seen a robin ourselves but our neighbor, friend, or family have.

For me spring is messy it’s when the snow is just starting to melt so there are big puddles and slush everywhere so walking around in rain boots is a must! I have 3 dogs at home who hate when it’s raining and spring always means rain. That old saying “April showers bring may flowers” so trying to get my dogs out in that weather is always a trial. I love seeing the first beginnings of spring the first feel of a warm breeze and the end to the colder weather. I am always cold so I am very happy to say goodbye to winter and welcome all that comes with spring.

 

Summer

 

Summer has to be my favourite season because it’s so nice and warm out! Summer has great opportunity to get out and do some BBQ try new recipes on our smoker. I love the many activities that are available including; camping, swimming, going to the beach, riding a bike anywhere, just getting out and walking without having to worry about a winter coat.  I am my own air conditioner so I can stay outside and keep cool when everyone else in my house stays indoors and relishes the A/C!

The trees and flowers are mostly in full bloom the and summer seems to be the season where you don’t feel rushed it never seems to last long enough but people are more willing to let things drift. I also enjoy all the festivals locally we have Rib fest, multi-cultural festival, blues fest, it’s always fun to get out meet new people and try all the food!

Food is one of the best parts of summer when we all gather with friends sit outside until the wee hours and really connect with each other. The sunshine is awe inspiring and beautiful.

My least favourite part of summer is the insects, I know they are a part of our eco system and that the world would end without them but if went the rest of my life without seeing another bee I would be thrilled. I don’t wish bees not to exist just that I never see them again I have such a phobia of bees its crazy! I run in the other direction and have been known to hyperventilate.

 

Fall

 

The most colourful off all the seasons for me fall is represents the beginning of the end. I love fall, I love walking and seeing all the colours that are appearing almost before my eyes. What gets me most about fall is the smell; it’s so refreshing and comforting. I enjoy being able to put on a cozy hoodie and a vest and take my dogs for a walk. I really enjoy fall food, apples are coming in to season and all the root vegetables are also up for grabs and I cannot get enough roasted carrots and vegetables.

The down fall to fall (pun intended) is that it means winter is nearing. It also means that people are heading back in doors and becoming more like hermits! Maybe that is just true of me. There are not many fall sports to partake in. Hockey starts in the fall so as a Canadian that’s always exciting a chance that the Toronto Maple Leafs have another kick at the cup.

 

Winter

 

My least favourite season, it’s downright cold! I do have to say this about winter it is pretty. When you wake up and see the snow on the trees it’s so pretty, then I look at my driveway and see how much I have to shovel and that makes me want to crawl back in to my cozy bed and hibernate like a bear!

I would also mark the holiday season as a plus for winter the feeling that you get with all the Christmas music playing all the time the heart wrenching commercials that air, and the stories of how much good people do during the holidays.

A negative for winter would be the weather.  This year winter has just started and we have already been hit in some areas with piles of snow. In my part of Ontario we were hit (literally) with piles of ice, some people have been without power for a week! I was luck our hydro lines are buried underground so we didn’t lose power. I cannot imagine what it would be like to not have power to have to find some way to stay warm and cozy not to be able to grab something out of the fridge and throw it in the oven to cook, it makes you realize how far we have come as a society.

I do enjoy winter sports, skiing, hockey, snow shoeing, skating. The list goes on. I also cannot imagine celebrating the holidays without snow even though I would love to live year round in a place that is so nice and warm all the time!

 

The year can go by so fast when you look back at all the season and how they just never seemed to linger long enough. The seasons are the in the background of our life and it’s always hard to remember the good about the seasons when we dwell on the events that happened. As I am in grip of the beginning of winter already I long for the summer and know that means many months from now will just fly by and I will  wonder where the heck all the time went!

 

What are your favourite seasons and why?

My Mom

My mom is an amazing person who had a tough life and continues to struggle with life’s challenges.

Marian Jean Loker was born September 7th, 1944 in Kitchener Ontario Canada. She was the oldest of 3 children her half brother Les and sister June were born to Viola and Fred Loker. She and here sister share the same mother and father however her mother was unfaithful and had a child with another man. When I ask my mom about her parents you can imagine her views are colourful. She has nothing but love and respect for her father when she speaks of him you can tell she was a daddy’s girl and she misses him. When she speaks of her mother you can see her visibly get angry, the reasons are because when my mom was only 10 years of age her mother walked out on the family. Something very much unheard of in 1954 I’m sure. As a result and because of social norms her father moved the family in with his sister’s place (my mom’s aunt) and when you ask my mom what she thought of that she will give you “the look”. I’m pretty sure she disliked her aunt more then she disliked her mother. One day I asked my mom about her she told me about a women who held her brother responsible for a lot of her life choices. She made my mom’s life a living hell, my mom was forced to quit school she said this was because she wanted to take care of her grandmother and because she had to get employment as her aunt charged her rent to live under her roof. My mom is a bit fuzzy as to how old she was and I believe she quit at the end of grade 6 or 7.

Listening to my mom tell stories her favourite stories she tells is when she would walk great distances to treat herself to homemade ice cream. She walked over arches that define a bridge on the way she walked ON TOP of the arches….she was a daring young lady!

She never really told me where she met my dad but I know that his interested were varied he loved skeet shooting and drag racing. I’ve also asked her many other questions about their courtship but they had gone unanswered as she would always say she doesn’t remember. What I do know is that the first time they had sex she got pregnant which again not something that was common place back in 1963-1964. They were married on June 28th, 1964 she was 19 he was 22. Mom turned 20 that year and my oldest sister Pam was born November 28th, 1964. My mom didn’t have good role models growing up and I wish I knew what she had been like then. Mom and dad clearly had their hands full because they didn’t have any other kids for long time and it was around this time that both her father and her father-in-law passed away.

On May 28th, 1978 my sister Dawn was born to my parents dismay she was born with a heart defect. They spent their time caring for her at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children but it was no use on June 12, 1978 Dawn passed away. I couldn’t imagine what the death of a child is like nor do I EVER want to know. However I’m sure they took the advice of people around them which probably went something like this “have another child as soon as you can” which is what happened because on June 10th, 1979 my sister Crystal was born and she was happy healthy kid no concerns. They lived as a very happy functional family until September 16th, 1981 when I was born. When I ask my mom if they knew about my differences before I was born I got both a yes and a no….so I’m not sure if they had ultra sounds done or if how I was, was a complete surprise but I was not a healthy baby. Out of the 4 of us girls I was the smallest at 4.5Lbs and I stayed at the local hospital for a bit then was airlifted to Sick Kids in Toronto where we as a family would begin a lifelong journey.

Life continued to get even harder for my mom because on the evening of June 30th 1983 my father passed away of a massive heart attack my mom became a single parent to a teenager and 2 young kids one of which had special needs. It was during this hard time just after he passed that my mom learned that my father had been unfaithful with someone she knew and loved she never did forgive that person but eventually they did reconcile for which I’m very grateful.

As a single parent my mom thrived she is very independent and took to it surprisingly well. She worked hard most times taking menial jobs and sometimes 3 at once. At one point she worked as a tool & die maker and if she hadn’t injured her finger she probably would still have been doing that. Her favourite jobs involved working with the public and she has spent almost 30 years working for the Tim Horton’s franchise at 2 different stores. At the current location she has worked for over 14 years (since the day it opened).

This brings our story to the present where on September 8th 2013 a day after her 69th birthday she suffered a stroke. One of my greatest nightmares has always been finding my mom dead in the house as it was it was as close to my nightmare as I EVER want to get. That morning I woke before my alarm went upstairs knowing that she would probably already be up to hear one of our dogs barking from her room which was unusual. I got our dog out of her room not seeing my mom anywhere at first, once I came back to the living room I saw her, lying on the floor between the coffee table and love seat. Not knowing right away what happened I thought I’d just help her up and when she couldn’t help me help her it STILL didn’t clue in right away but it didn’t take long to. Once I managed to get her on the love seat I ran down got my phone and called for an ambulance. Good news is that she never lost conscienceless and never was admitted to the ICU. She has worked hard to come back but this journey we find ourselves on is going to still be a long one and filled with more ups and downs I’m sure.

She hasn’t lost her humour or her way of looking at the world. She is still very much herself and I have no doubt that come this time next year we will be reminiscing about the time I found her and she nearly gave me a heart attack. She has been though so much but she is a fighter, she is stubborn and she will NOT give up, she is my mother and I would be no one without her. I learned what it meant to be strong, what it meant to love also learned all my curse words from her!! She LOVES chips, she loved the Toronto Maple Leafs, she very much enjoys watching any hockey really doesn’t matter what teams are playing. She is my mom and I couldn’t be more proud to be her daughter!

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I am an open book

Today I had the amazing opportunity to participate in something I had never heard of before.  I was asked to be part of a living library, I was book #7.

The event took place at Lucknow Central Elementary Public School in Lucknow Ontario about 1.5 hours away from where I live. It’s a great small community that has a mixture of farm folks and suburban peeps. My good friend Monica was my companion for the day and we had a nice drive. I love the fact that there is still so much green around, there were farms and not a lot of anything during the drive and it was really nice. I like getting out of the city as much as I can it’s just so pretty out in this world!

I revived an email a few weeks ago from my volunteer coordinator that said “see below” and below was a request from the Educational Assistant asking me to participate in this idea of a living library. I jumped at the opportunity since the idea of educating kids is such a big deal for me. I had no idea what to expect and when with an open mind and empty stomach since lunch was being provided :)  

The idea of a living library is to create a conversation amoungst a group of people so that we may learn more about the people around us in turn this promotes diversity and reduces prejudice.  The living books are typically from all walks of life, from different cultural backgrounds, wide range of ages, and life experiences and vary in their careers.

The way that ours was set up was that each “book” was at a table and table were located all over the school and groups of kids would come and “borrow” us. Before the even the kids were given a description of each “book” and asked to sign up to 8 out of 13 but they were only scheduled for 6 of us. Each period which lasted about 30 mins they came over and each of us “books” talked to them.  I started with telling them a bit about me in the hopes that it would spear them to ask questions.  Some students came ready with questions and some kids just winged it. The kids were great they were accepting and I sensed no hostility from them at all. At some points with was hard since most of the kids seemed really shy they didn’t have a lot of questions and in most of the 6 groups it turned out that I was engaging them and asking them questions. I tried to be informative about what it’s like being different asking them if they had been victims of bullying or seen it happen and all had either been or seen it.  I’m not sure how I was received but I’m sure i will hear both positive and negative (if any) feedback in the coming days. I had sometimes to remember my audience since I am not around young adults everyday I treat them the same as I would my peers and had to remember to keep my filter in place so that I didn’t say anything that they probably shouldn’t hear. I can be negative sometimes and I’m glad I had Monica there who was an amazing help to keep me on track bring up things that were good ideas of things to talk about but also to talk to the kids about herself as well.

The other “books” were a wide range of people there was a nurse, a DJ, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict (who is 9 years sober), Automotive repairman, Salon owner, a mother of an adult with developmental disability, Funeral director, owner of an auto wreckers company, Fitness instructor, a pharmacist, and an openly gay man. I got to meet some of them which was great.

Monica and I asked the kids if they thought the experience was valuable or if it was another one of those school activities that we all dreaded in school but they were really receptive of the experience. They really enjoyed getting to meet different people who had a story to share they said that since they live in such a small town they don’t get exposed to as much diversity they don’t get to see what the world is like beyond their town.

I think the only thing I would do differently now that I know what to expect is weave a story or make what I had to say more engaging or lively…

For lunch there was homemade lasagna, salad, fresh baked bread (still warm, yummy), and homemade brownies for dessert which were fantastic!! A great day had by all I would say!

ImageOn my way out the door I got this as a gift. A cute stuffed lynx and an awesome mug!!

 

Tim Horton’s Camp Day 2013

I interrupted my regularly scheduled work week to participate in Tim Horton’s annual Camp Day. My mom works at a local store and every year I choose to skip out on my work day and hang out with her and help raise some money.

Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation provides an amazing opportunity for kids to attend one of their camps free of charge. Children are picked right from the communities where Tim Horton’s are located the children are. The children are selected by a Community Agency or school working with the local Tim Horton’s Restaurant Owners, or they are invited by the Foundation to apply.

There are 6 camps and all do residential and year long programs. The residential programs allow kids to come for 10 days in the summer or something pretty neat they have a stay during March break. The activities are clearly designed to fit the season, in summer they have they typical camp type activities like archery, canoeing, and creative arts but also they have high and low adventure courses which challenge the kids and helps them develop skills that they may not have been able to do so while in their home environment. The winter camp program offers children the opportunity to try dog sledding, skating, and snow tubing. Now as anyone who knows me will tell you I HATE the cold but I would love to go to winter camp and do all of those things!!

Camp Day is a once a year fund raising event where all proceeds from their coffee sales goes directly to the foundation. Almost all stores also hold fun activities to help raise even more money. This year was a bit quite for my mom’s store in terms of activities, we had a BBQ which was donated and graciously ran by our local Pillars company (see pic), we had a games table and a partial car wash. At the games table people could donate $2 and either spin to win a prize or they could choose a sucker which was specially marked to win a prize. Some of the staff were also outside and washed customer’s windshields while they waited in the drive-thru line. To help raise more money I also knitted some dishcloths and sold them for $2 each.

Besides myself who was their volunteering the store also brought in local police officer and a couple firemen to serve coffee. Since I used to work for Tim Horton’s I manned the games table all day and avoided what might have felt like work! :)

To everyone who came out to donate and support an amazing cause THANK YOU! In case you couldn’t get out and buy a coffee you can donate by going to Tim Horton’s website http://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/difference/childrens-foundation.html. If you live in Canada or the US you can donate $5 by texting the word CAMP to 45678 (Canadian residents) or 41518 (US residents). If you are moved and live outside Canada or the US on the website there is a link to “donate now” and you would be able to make a one time donation though credit card or a little birdy told me PayPal is also accepted however I’m not 100% sure.

I love supporting Camp Day because I believe that camp is a great experience for all kids. I was lucky enough to be able to go to camp 2 years in a row and had a lot of fun because my sister was with me. I don’t remember playing a lot with the other kids so it was a typical everyday experience for me that way but I have no truly negative feelings towards it. I remember getting up and it was always cold in the morning when we would make a mad dash to the dinning hall for breakfast. I also remember having some spending money to buy something at the tuck shop. What were your experiences at camp?

Imageme and Tammy

Imagemy mom and I

Imageme and another volunteer. He is a fire fighter….I forget his name.

ImageThe games table

ImageEveryone having fun yet!! At the drive-thru

ImageBBQ!! This was them just as they were setting up.

I should also mention that one year when I was working I dared my co-workers to raise $1000 and I would shave my head. We had always raised a good amount of money but never this much so I thought meh, I’m safe….yeah took them all of I think 24 hours to do it! So our manager joined the challenge and asked them to raise $5000 and she would also shave her head….yep on camp day we both had nice short REALLY short hair dos.. and before you ask NO I don’t have any pictures, I didn’t think I looked that great with no hair and unless that same store (you all know who you are) raise something like $10, 000 i would volunteer to do that again.